Fountain of Youth and Forte 2023 Prep Race Recap

Kentucky Derby prep race recap of the 2023 Fountain of Youth and winner Forte.
Kentucky Derby prep race recap of the 2023 Fountain of Youth and winner Forte. / Associated Press

The Championship Series races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby featured 15 major prep races that awarded 50 to 100 points to the winner and a spot in the starting gate for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.

The 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 4 was won by heavy favorite Forte (1/2) in 143:12. He pulled away and won by more than 4-lenghts over Rocket Can, and upcoming Kentucky Derby runners Mage and Cyclone Mischief. The race was also a prep race for the 1 1/8 mile Florida Derby, which Forte also won on April 1.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. has been aboard Forte in five straight wins for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Florida Derby for a record seventh time with Forte. Four of Forte's wins have been Grade 1 races, including the Fountain of Youth. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be making his seventh start in the Kentucky Derby, and his best finish came aboard Improbable in 2019 when that colt was moved up from fifth to fourth after winner Maximum Security was disqualified. Todd Pletcher has won the Kentucky Derby twice.

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Forte Kentucky Derby Favorite

Forte will be the betting favorite in the 2023 Kentucky Derby, according to FanDuel Racing odds. He's won 6-of-7 starts, including five in a row entering the Derby to earn him the role as Derby favorite just ahead of Blue Grass winner Tapit Trice and Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move.

Forte was the only horse in the Florida Derby to finish strongly with a final 3/8 mile time of less than 38 seconds. Forte came home in 37.88 seconds to surge past deep closer Mage with a winning time of 1:49.37.

Nine of the last 11 Kentucky Derby winners and 19 of the last 25 finished the final three furlongs of their final prep race in less than 38 seconds.

The Fountain of Youth has been run every year since 1953 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, South Florida. Since 2012, the race has remained at 1 1/16 miles after being contested at 1 1/8 miles from 2005-2011.

Five horses have won both the Fountain of Youth and Kentucky Derby - Orb (2013), Thunder Gulch (1995), Spectacular Bid (1979), Kauai King (1966) and Tim Tam (1958).

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